Once again Maria, the mama with PPD who I interviewed last month, has proven herself to be a rare and amazing new friend.
I woke up from a nap on Friday evening, loaded on antibiotics and cough medicine, and did what I always do after waking: compulsively looked for blog comment notifications in my e-mail. And what did I find but a comment on my post “Why Did You Leave?” from Maria nominating me for the Blogger Recognition Award!! It could not have come at a better time…I also recently attended the King County/4 Culture Poetry on Buses Launch Party as a celebrated poet! If you ride public transit in King County, keep an eye out for my poem “Words for Robin,” or just read it on that website I linked up thurr on February 23, 2018. That’s a while from now, but TODAY, I’ve got the Blogger Recognition Award to share with you! It’s been just a little over three months since I started blogging and already I am being nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award. Wow. What a wonderful way to wake up.
Now, the Blogger Recognition Award is not, you know, something which involves a trophy and a big ceremony (although wouldn’t that be great; if we could all meet together in person and give each other ceremonious hugs and laptop shaped trophies to lug through airport security, haha) but it is a way for one blogger to say to another blogger: “I read what you write, I see how hard you work, and I appreciate you.” There is no gaudy trophy in this world that can replace the feeling of being appreciated. So, thank you, Maria, for nominating me for the Blogger Recognition Award and showing me that my words, and I, matter.
Let’s see what this is all about.
The Blogger Recognition Award:
The rules for the Blogger Recognition Award are as follows:
- Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to her blog ✔ Please click around! I linked that particular post because it literally makes me cry every time I read it, but she’s got a library of really honest and important posts so spend some time there on I, Mommy. (The sci-fi nerd in me also gets really giggly and stupidly happy whenever I see that name, too).
- Write a post to show off your award to everyone ✔
- Tell a brief story about how your blog got started (keep reading….)
- Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers (stay with me, it’s coming…:)
- Select 15 other awesome bloggers to nominate for the award (some of these may have to be blogs I’ve been silently lurking on..)
- Comment on their blogs telling them the good news ✔
Aight here goes…
Why I Started Betty’s Battleground
Once upon a time about oh, three months ago, I was feeling very depressed. I was being harassed in court by the man whose extreme violence caused my PTSD, and there was nothing I could do to stop him except engage in the court proceedings. It was pretty triggering, and I became deeply depressed as a result. I began to fight with my husband and shout at my kids over little things; my visitations with my eldest son dropped because I often found myself sick and unable to even get out of bed; I stopped going outside except when absolutely necessary; I had to quit my job and almost lost my apartment as a result; I even began to contemplate suicide just to release myself from The Ex’s control. I began to see my therapist weekly, as opposed to biweekly, and also started a weekly structured peer support group, but those things just covered three hours out of two days of the week. I needed something more.
When my generous and amazing friend Kathleen, a front end web developer on maternity leave, offered to not only purchase but also host my blog domain, I was given a new outlet for my feelings.
I began using Betty’s Battleground as a way to describe the day-to-day experience of living and parenting with PTSD. I wanted to unload the emotional burden of my daily experience, while also spreading awareness about a disorder which affects millions of people, and countless parents, every day. I wanted to relieve myself of the burden of shame placed upon me by my experience of domestic violence, and to build my bravery for the upcoming custody trial. If I admit my truth openly, it can no longer be used to hurt me.
As I began to promote my blog and connect with other members of the parenting and mental illness communities, beginning with the Facebook Group “Parent Bloggers Elite,” I began to truly realize just how many people are affected by trauma, PTSD, mental illness, parenting burnout, and the stigmas surrounding them, and also how many people outside of these communities have such little knowledge about mental illness. The world outside of the recovery community is riddled with misconceptions; misconceptions which range from merely annoying, to downright dangerous.
Betty’s Battleground started as a place for me to practice verbalizing my truth so that I would not be too shaken when I had to do it in court, but it has quickly grown into an informational resource and meeting place where those on the inside of mental illness-those of us directly experiencing it-and those on the periphery can connect, share stories, and reach a greater understanding of one another. Whether it’s calling someone a “normie” or a “lunatic,” we both alienate each other. I hope to use this blog to bring us together. My first guest post series, Tales From the Other Side, has been enormously successful in sharing the perspectives of those who live, love, and work with the mentally ill, and how the experience of being on the “outside looking in” has very real effects. Last month, Maria helped me launch the “Parenting with Mental Illness” series, and her interview has been my most widely shared post. I wish her fundraiser had taken off as well; right now Maria is only able to access her PPD medication, but not therapy. If everyone who read this donates just $10 (the cost of a latte and a snack) we’ll get Maria into therapy by dinnertime!
But anyway, (end plug) in these three short months I have grown Betty’s Battleground from a strength building exercise into a lasting resource. I have connected with a group of wonderful moms, dads, and bloggers, and I have made some interesting and sometimes startling discoveries about myself along the way. My last goal for the blog was, and still is, to make some moolah. Sound petty or disappointing? Think of it this way: supporting a gaggle of kiddos, plus myself and my husband who also has PTSD, is not easy. I never want or intend to promote or advertise anything I don’t actually believe in, but monetization without “selling out” is a major goal. Make that a necessity. If you have any ideas about how to make that happen, please leave it in the comments!
Advice to New Bloggers
Well folks! I’m still a new blogger! But here goes:
- Be patient. Whatever your goal is, be patient. If you want your work read by thousands of people a day; if you want to make an income from blogging; if you want to rank well on Google; if you just want a bragworthy number of subscribers; even if you just want to spread an important message, be patient. You’re going to run across tons of posts, pins, or whatever claiming to tell you that they have the magical formula that will bring you Pinterest fame, make your e-mail subscriber list explode overnight, and earn you $5,000 within your first five minutes of blogging. Firstly, they’re lying. Secondly, they are trying to sell you something. A better plan is to be patient. There are real people and services out there that will help you without spamming or charging you. The best ones offer free services with the option of paying to add features. That’s the key though: if you get to keep the best parts of it free, indefinitely, it’s probably real. I use Hootsuite to create autoposts on Twitter and I am trialing their paid service which lets me post on other social media services and do some other neat things as well. I use Crowdfire‘s free service to help with Twitter growth (it’s awesome). I’m trying to figure out Tailwind for Pinterest, but haven’t gotten the hang of it yet; I mention it however because a lot of people swear by it. StumbleUpon has been my biggest and simplest source of site traffic yet. And Facebook blogger groups are awesome. My favorites are Parent Bloggers Elite (for parent bloggers, obviously), and Blog Support Group for all bloggers. Finally, Canva is my favorite FREE way to make site graphics; like the other services you can choose to pay for extras, but I do just fine using only the free stuff.
- Connect with other bloggers in your niche(s). Invite them to guest post. Write guest posts. Make blogging friends. You may never meet in person (or hey, maybe you will) but the friendships formed across the blogosphere have been some of the most supportive in my life. And let me tell you: My numbers spike, pretty significantly, every time I host another blogger’s post. I initially was going to make a rule that I would only accept guest posts from established bloggers whose blogs had been live for at least six months and had some certain number of followers yadayada. I’m embarrassed thinking back at how I initially declined Sheila O’Donnell’s guest post request (remember that Sheila?) because she hadn’t been blogging long enough. Then I realized, who cares? It was way more valuable to connect with someone as kind and insightful as Sheila, or Connie, who also guest posted for me after having only been blogging a few weeks. And you know what? My numbers spiked anyway.
- I know I’m only supposed to give two pieces of advice so I’ll make this bonus one super short. Prioritize your time. Writing, building, and promoting a blog is time consuming and can be exhausting. If you don’t pace yourself and take breaks, you’re going to burn out. You started blogging for a reason, and that reason is important to you. Don’t give up on your dream just because you let it turn into toil. If it’s starting to suck, slow down a bit. I did, and guess what? My numbers and Twitter followers didn’t really change. On some days they even increased. So don’t stress. You’re okay.
Now it’s time to pass on the appreciation. I wish I could nominate Maria,because I love her blog and what she does for Postpartum Depression awareness, but she nominated me, so instead I’ll just ask you to please consider donating $10 to her PPD care campaign. Her husband is out of town, meaning she is alone with PPD and three kids right now. I don’t want to make her life sound like a pityparty; she’s a strong lady, but even strong ladies need support, and this money could be a big help. The campaign closes in just a few days, so there is no better time than now!
I wish we lived in the same country. Specifically, that I lived in hers…Fuck this Trump shit. But, alas, as of yet, I don’t have a way to move to Canada, so Maria and I can’t give each other the long, heartfelt hugs we so would like to. Instead we’ll just have to keep being really supportive to each other online, and this is my way of doing that.
I also wish I could nominate Elizabeth Voyles from the excellent, hilarious, and totally relateable parenting blog Worth Writing For, but when I announced my nomination by Maria on Facebook, Elizabeth revealed that she had not only already been nominated, but was planning on nominating me! Whoops!
So no Maria and no Elizabeth, but luckily there are tons of other amazing blogs and bloggers, so here are my nominees for the Blogger Recognition Award:
- I’ve talked about her enough…so naturally…my first nominee is Sheila O’Donnell from Parallel Dichotomy
- The beautiful, intelligent, and courageous Sareeta from Flight and Scarlet
- Jess, from Dissociative Jess, who I haven’t interacted with much but I love her blog and definitely think she deserves some appreciation
- The impeccable August Pfizenmayer from collaborative mental health blog Survival Is A Talent
- My new blogger buddy whose blog is, in my opinion, a top PTSD resource, PTSD Wifey
- Gracious, tender Connie Hulsart from Essentially Broken
- Fabulously creative Vicki from Babies to Bookworms
- Beautiful Luz from Adventures With Nico
- Brave and inspirational Fatima from Echoes of Her Voice
- Totally sweet Ana (who I still hope will write me a guest post ;)) from Faded Spring
- Super sweet, practical homemaker-blogger Jacqueline who we could all learn a thing or two from, at Sincerely Jacqueline
- Fellow PTSD mama and super smart Karin from I Am The Kraken
- Genuine human being, future Betty’s Battleground guest poster, and the
best blog commenter ever Author Brandi Kennedy from The Musing of Brandi Kennedy
- Hilarious single dad who pulls no punches, David Elliot from Single Dad’s Guide To Life
- Supremely intelligent allergy recipe blogger (and fellow JKS graduate) Ashley from Type & Cakes
Whether it is raising awareness about misunderstood topics, braving personal traumas to break stigmas, sharing creative entertainments, or just crafting words that bring more joy and understanding to this world, all of these bloggers use their platforms to make this world just that much better. Congratulations nominees: You all deserve this show of appreciation.
There you have it! Leave a comment and let me know what you think about the Betty’s Battleground story. Like I said, I am still working way too hard to grow my audience, so if you could puh-leaz take a couple seconds to click one or two of these share buttons, I’d so appreciate it.
If you like what you read here and want to be involved, leave a comment or check out the guest post info/contact pages. And don’t forget to join the Facebook Community; it’s a COMMUNITY! You can, like, post stuff yourself 😉
Finally, finally, finally…you gotta, juuuust GOTTA subscribe! Don’t ya think? I’ll make it easy for you. Just put your info here. Don’t worry, I won’t sell it to anyone. I won’t even give it away to space aliens; that’s a serious promise coming from me.
Til next time!